Simple Living: Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself

“Love is when the other person's happiness is more important than your own.”
–H. Jackson Brown, Jr., American author

I don’t think God creates commandments just for fun. Nor do I think He establishes them to see who will succeed and who will fail. The commandments of God are doable and obeyable. Sure, they may be difficult. We may fail plenty of times because we’re still imperfect people. And that’s why salvation by grace is so important. We’re not saved by how well we obey the commandments of God. But ultimately, the commandments are doable. As redeemed people who rely on the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, we have the ability to accomplish the things that God has asked us to do.

I bring this up because there are some commandments that are downright difficult. Here’s one: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31, ESV). Sometimes, I say to myself, “I wish Jesus didn’t say that.” It would have been much easier if Jesus simply said, “Love your neighbor.” That would leave the “how” open to personal interpretation. But Jesus qualifies the commandment and leaves very little room for interpreting it in a different way: “As yourself.” Well, folks, that’s the second greatest commandment. Love your neighbor as yourself. Good luck with that.

As I mentioned, it’s not a commandment that was created just for fun. Nor is it a commandment that is just setting us up for failure. God actually expects us to be able to do it. And since it’s from God, we have to believe that it’s the best God-ordained way to live our lives—to have our lives revolve around loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Well, if we’re going to achieve this, some of us are going to have to make some tough lifestyle changes. We can’t be generous with our time, our energy, and our money if we don’t have any to spare in the first place. And so, can we simplify our lives so that we’ll have more resources to share to others? Loving our neighbors as ourselves is going to be quite the challenge. We’ll stumble and fall. But we must continue to strive towards it believing it’s the best way to live. And ultimately, it’s something that’s quite doable in the end.